I received an excellent question from a reader regarding the Brazilian Blowout™. She loved the results but, like I experienced, she had eye irritation in addition to nose and throat burning. Like I shared with you, I teared uncontrollably during the blowout of the treatment.
Does this mean the Brazilian Blowout™ is toxic?
This is the email I received:
“I read about the Brazilian Blowout™ on your blog and had to get it done. I was pretty freaked out during the process when my eyes, nose and throat started burning. I saw on your blog that your eyes also burned from it. I guess it made me kind of nervous because if the product really is formaldehyde free and “scary-chemical” free, why would it make our eyes and other mucous membranes burn?
Also, on mystyle.com I read this quote from the maker of Brazilian Blowout™:
“When it started in Brazil, they were using a very high percentage of formaldehyde,” explains Ribeiro, a native of San Paulo. “I actually work with a milder version but I do realize we’re using a toxic chemical so you have to be careful.” –so does that mean there is in fact formaldehyde in BB, just a lower level?
Also, on brazilianblowout.com it makes no mention of their product being formaldehyde-free. Is this all just a big rumor?
Any thoughts you have on the topic would be greatly appreciated, as I love what it did to my hair and want to continue doing it, as long as it’s truly safe.”
I turned to my favorite Brazilian Blowout™ Specialist, Jordana for some answers.
“It is true that the original formulas used in Brazil (and which may still be used there) contained high levels of formaldehyde, and that Mauricio Ribeiro reformulated the treatment to contain less when he premiered the solution in the US. However, it is important to note the date of this article quoting him (January 2008), because Brazilian Blowout changed their formula later that year (I waited for the formaldehyde-free formula to come out before offering the service, and I received it in September 2008). While I am a highly-trained and experienced technician in applying the treatment, I am neither a doctor nor a chemist, but what follows is my understanding and experience with BB.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a Brazilian Blowout exec, and this was one of our topics of discussion as I have received many questions regarding the chemical make-up of the treatment. I have learned that the current formula (as of last fall, including the newest one released just this month and the one I used on Tammy) does contain a chemical cousin, also in the ‘hyde’ family, and therefore can cause irritation in some individuals (though it occurs in fewer cases, which I believe is why they chose it). He said that if a client has had an allergic reaction to formaldehyde in the past, they are not a good candidate for this treatment and I have since added this question to my consultation/analysis process.
I perform the service several times a week as well as having it done on my own hair without any trouble, and this is the case with most clients. Some do feel eye irritation (as Tammy did), and I have heard of (but not witnessed in my 100+ treatments) other reactions as the reader described. It sounds as though she has a true allergy, which may have been apparent during biology class and would likely prevent her from using many widely marketed body lotions, anti-perspirants and nail polishes. Now that I know about this, I ask before proceeding with the service. I am also investing in a special air filter to minimize (hopefully eliminate) superficial irritation for those who have had minor discomfort but wish to continue with BB.
Of course, I don’t like to turn anyone away if I can help it! I want to be able to help as many people as possible fight their frizz. For clients with allergy, sensitivity, or those who are specifically concerned about ‘hyde’ exposure, I have researched, tested and have been using a different keratin treatment called Global Keratin. I was planning to suggest Tammy might try this for her next treatment to avoid irritation, and I would definitely recommend this for the reader.
Global Keratin offers treatments with or without formaldehyde, and I use only the latter, which has no ‘hyde’ of any kind. The results are shiny, smooth and semi-permanent just as with Brazilian Blowout, and my clients have been very happy with it. By using this option, one does lose a major convenience associated only with BB; it requires that the keratin settle into the hair for 48-72 hours following the treatment. That means no washing, wetting, curling, clipping or ponytailing during that time. But in order to avoid irritation, that may be worth the wait! An excerpt from my website regarding Global Keratin:
“Global Keratin is the most flexible of Jordana’s keratin treatments; it can be used for simple frizz elimination while maintaining curl, or to achieve varying levels of straightness. Jordana only uses their formaldehyde-free formula, which is also free of ANY other “hyde family” ingredients (most other treatments do contain some form of “hyde” and should not be used on individuals with formaldehyde allergies). GK contains ultra-fine keratin molecules in a moisturizing base which can be adjusted to your hair type to provide a wide range of results.”
I hope this information has been helpful for anyone decide whether or not the Brazilian Blowout™ is right for you! For me, I would do it again even with the eye irritation as it’s been such an amazing difference. I’ll consider the Global Keratin but I’m a little nervous about switching when I’ve already had such good results from the BB. I am willing to pay a price for maintaining the changes I’ve experienced in my hair. However, I did not have a burning throat or nose, have a difficult time breathing or experience continued eye irritation after leaving the salon. If I had, I would seriously consider not having the BB done again.
Please write in if you have any further questions for myself or Jordana!
Jordana Lorraine graduated from Vidal Sassoon in 1995 and specialized in color and extensions before focusing on Brazilian Blowout™. In addition to her Brazilian Blowout™ Certification, Jordana has spent a highly unusual 4 hours with the creator of the process, during which they discussed details of the treatment and worked on a client together.
UPDATE, APRIL 2010: Brazilian Blowout™ is now free of formaldehyde and all hyde family ingredients, as shown on their website www.brazilianblowout.com. Read our report: BIG NEWS: Keratin Hair Treatment, Brazilian Blowout™ in Now HYDE-FREE!
UPDATE, September 25, 2010: New OSHA Testing Reports Formaldehyde Found in Brazilian Blowout™. The news is so disappointing for those of us that loved the results of the treatment.
UPDATE, October 6, 2010: Brazilian Blowout Claims OSHA’s Testing Methods Proven Faulty
UPDATE, April 2011: Brazilian Blowout gives a statement to CBS News:
Professional smoothing treatment brand Brazilian Blowout wrote CBS News the following response on their product:
Thank you for your time today and for your understanding that Brazilian Blowout is a brand and not a category.
We are currently attempting to contact Federal OSHA as we have never been contacted by them regarding their research of Brazilian Blowout. To date all state OSHA testing that has been made available to us clearly demonstrates that our product is safely below all OSHA defined air monitoring levels.
In the meantime, Brazilian Blowout has launched “Brazilian Blowout ZERO” for anyone concerned about the hair smoothing category. ZERO utilizes a new plant derived system that delivers exceptional results without any controversial ingredients.